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Sony's fall camcorders

Sony's fall camcorders

Sony's going all out with its hard drive camcorder, um, drive, if today's announcements are any indication. The company announced a disk-based version of its HDR-HC1 model, as well as lower-end line mates for its currently shipping Handycam DCR-SR100. There's also an HD-DVD model that records in the AVCHD format.

The HDR-SR1 1080i uses Sony's ClearVid sensor and records on a 30GB hard drive, outputs HDMI to an HDTV for best quality, and includes built-in Dolby 5.1 recording. It's slated to ship in October for $1,500. Based on what I've seen with the SR100, I expect the SR1 to be a killer model.

On the flip side, the HDR-UX1 is the same camcorder, but DVD-based. As I've mentioned before, I'm not really fond of the idea of AVCHD recording on mini DVDs--it just seems like too many transition technologies piled into one product. At least the $1,400 camcoder will support dual-layer discs, for a total of about 60 minutes of recording time, when it ships in September.

Two of the low-end HDD camcorders, the DCR-SR80 and -SR60, will use a 1-megapixel sensor, which may be a bit too low resolution for decent MPEG-2 recording; I'm almost sure the 680K sensor in the SR40 is. The first two have 12X zoom lenses, while the third tries to compensate with a 20X zoom. They all have 30GB hard drives. All three ship next month, for $800 (SR80), $700 (SR60), and $600 (SR40).